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Weathering the Outdoors

I've not got a driving license, for a variety of reasons too boring to explore here. The upshot of this is that, apart from lifts and some public transport, I have travelled my entire life on Shank's pony and my trusty bike(s). There are huge benefits. When I was young I recall a 40 minute walk to school and back daily. I had the option of a lift but refused it. I loved the time, the peace, the headspace, even then. I loved the weather, the daily exposure to the elements. Many days I started lessons in damp (sometimes very wet) clothes which would gradually dry as the day passed. I didn't really notice the discomfort, it was part of my everyday. It is interesting that now as a mum I will appeal to my offspring to don a coat, to dress for weather usually to a frustrating refusal. Perhaps it is a family trait.

But I think that throughout my adult life I have yearned to be outside in the weather. It never ever fails to uplift, to move spirits, to inspire. I was reminiscing recently about an early childhood in a house without central heating. We slept with weighty blankets, getting up and lighting a fire for warmth. There was always cold, and then there was always the comfort of finding warmth. Such simple pleasures. But profound, they are profound. The animal instinct within us seeking warmth, comfort, security and then sometimes a threatening sense of chill.

Nowadays, we all live in heated homes. Nowadays there are many among us who actively seek chill in the outdoors. I read a swimmer's post recently lamenting the lack of cold available, the rivers and lakes feel too warm, the shower's thermostat won't let it get cold enough.

As a long term yoga practitioner, it is my interest and my pleasure to investigate what it is my body, mind and spirit yearns for. Many yoga people really dig deep into this, it is a personal enquiry on a regular basis. And this discovery doesn't surprise me. This need for elemental experience - fingers in mud, face in open water, nostrils breathing in smell of hay, whole body spritzed in rain. I read a lot about animism, about humans as part of nature (there is no getting away from this), as the evolution of the human species moving further and further from its roots. We need it, yearn for it, are sick without it.

So this is a clarion call to put some outdoors in your life: garden, dog walk, weekend hike, seaside visiting, lake swimming, mountain climbing, cycling to work, gentle jog, super sprint, yoga outdoors, paddlesport, bird watch, there is a long long list of possibilities. But whatever you do, fall in love with nature, she is your support and the earth on which we all depend.

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